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Journal Times editorial: A virtual snow job in Madison
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Journal Times editorial: A virtual snow job in Madison

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Close your computers, kids, there’s no virtual learning today because there’s a literal snowstorm coming in.

We’re often astounded at the events that come out of Madison and last week was no exception.

The Madison Metropolitan School District, which does all virtual learning for its students, decided to cancel those remote learning sessions because of last Tuesday’s incoming snowstorm.

No matter that students were already safe at home. No matter that there were no buses to be worried about or fears over students walking to and from school in a storm. No matter that in a more severe storm on Jan. 26 the district decided that students should keep humming away with remote learning on their computers.

In a bizarre example of edu-speak, MMSD spokesman Tim Lemonds, dead-panned, “MMSD’s decision to cancel virtual learning as well as closing school buildings as a result of today’s inclement weather was an equity-based decision.”

Say what? It was about fairness?

Lemonds wrote in an email, “MMSD is working hard to strike a balance between insuring continuity of learning for our students while making sure our student participants in MSCR Cares (a daycare program) or in-person special education programming do not fall further behind via not being able to transition to virtual platforms on short notice.”

So, because the children in day-care programs or special education who actually go to school buildings couldn’t attend because of the storm — all the at-home virtual students got the day off, too?

Lemonds’ remarks flew in the face of his comments nine days earlier when the district maintained classes in another snowstorm. He said then, “MMSD is already an all virtual instructional model and today’s weather event had very minimal impact on our students and staff, and we did not see the need to disrupt the continuity of learning for our students.”

Even more remarkably, Lemonds cited the Jan. 26 non-closure of remote classes as a factor in the closing decision because it “put MMSD ahead on snow days, and to strike this balance it was decided, with consideration to providing students with the normalcy of a snow day, we would close school for all students today.”

So, that’s like the NBA where a team has a foul to give? And what is “the normalcy of a snow day?” Is that when students cheer at weather bulletins that forecast heavy snow because they’ll be able to stay home — where they have already stayed for months.

One of the very few advantages of remote learning that was imposed on schools by the dangers of the COVID pandemic was that it eliminated the need to close schools during blizzards.

But MMSD has found a bizarre workaround to that: a virtual blizzard closing.

We’re not trained in educational bureaucracy, but we know a snow job when we see one. Literally, virtually and really.

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